Canada’s international co-operation minister insisted yesterday the country is not at odds with its G8 partners over funding for abortion in the developing world despite a difference of opinion with the United States.

Bev Oda stepped out of day-long meetings with her international colleagues to stress that she and her American counterpart did not disagree on their approaches to improving maternal and child health.

“I want to assure you that Canada is listening as to the importance of family planning, the impact family planning can have in improving the health of mothers and children,” she said at a brief news conference in Halifax, with her U.S. colleague at her side.

“We do not disagree on the definition of family planning that the international community uses.”

Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, also claimed the two countries are not at loggerheads over their differing approaches to maternal health.

The Obama administration has said it supports a woman’s right to safe abortions in developing countries. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last month that a maternal health initiative must include the provision of safe, legal abortions.

Canada clarified its position this week when it said it won’t support funding for abortions in the developing world as part of a family-planning initiative it’s making a key agenda item for a meeting of G8 leaders in June in Huntsville, Ont.

When asked yesterday if the conflicting positions put the two countries at odds, Shah responded with: “No, absolutely not.”

Canada’s stance on abortion provoked a sharp rebuke from the opposition parties in Ottawa and from international aid agencies, who said it is irresponsible to deny the service to women in impoverished countries.

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